Articles | Volume 16, issue 6
Opinion article
22 Jun 2012
Opinion article |  | 22 Jun 2012

Training hydrologists to be ecohydrologists and play a leading role in environmental problem solving

M. E. McClain, L. Chícharo, N. Fohrer, M. Gaviño Novillo, W. Windhorst, and M. Zalewski

Abstract. Ecohydrology is a relatively new and rapidly growing subject area in the hydrology curriculum. It is a trans-disciplinary science derived from the larger earth systems science movement and examining mutual interactions of the hydrological cycle and ecosystems. It is also an applied science focused on problem solving and providing sound guidance to catchment-scale integrated land and water resources management. The principle spheres of ecohydrology include (i) climate-soil-vegetation-groundwater interactions at the land surface with special implications for land use, food production and climate change; (ii) riparian runoff, flooding, and flow regime dynamics in river corridors with special implications for water supply, water quality, and inland fisheries; and (iii) fluvial and groundwater inputs to lakes/reservoirs, estuaries, and coastal zones with special implications for water quality and fisheries. We propose an educational vision focused on the development of professional and personal competencies to impart a depth of scientific knowledge in the theory and practice of ecohydrology and a breadth of cross-cutting knowledge and skills to enable ecohydrologists to effectively collaborate with associated scientists and communicate results to resource managers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders. In-depth knowledge in hydrology, ecology, and biogeochemistry is emphasized, as well as technical skills in data collection, modeling, and statistical analysis. Cross-cutting knowledge is framed in the context of integrated water resources management. Personal competencies to be fostered in educational programs include creative thinking, cooperation, communication, and leadership. We consider a life-long learning context but highlight the importance of master's level training in the professional formation of ecohydrologists.